Morality in "Death in Venice"

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WHAT DOES DEATH IN VENICE TELL US ABOUT EUROPEAN MORALITY IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTUARY? A In the text “Death in Venice” the morality can be questioned based on the decision Venetians made concerning the cholera that plagued the city at the time. The definition of moral according to the Oxford Dictionary is: “Concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour”. A definition of morality is: “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.” Due to this I will be focusing on the right and wrong behaviour of the venetians exhibited in the story. In the text there is an outbreak of cholera, also referred to as a “plague”. The Venetians have decided to keep this plague a secret from tourists as tourism is a main contribution to their total revenue. Gustav Acshenbach has figured out something is going on, he asks around but almost everyone is willing to lie in order to protect their own interests. The choice can be considered wrong behaviour, many people may die because they did not know about the disease. Keeping this secret could be considered murder, which is against the law and morally very wrong. Finally a gentleman tells Acshenbach “No ground for alarm, sir. A mere formality. Quite regular in the view of the unhealthy climatic conditions.” “At least that is the official explanation, which they see fit to stick to.” The truth is revealed to Acshenbach. The government may choose to keep it out of the news papers but private companies and individuals have the power to save lives. Which would be the right decision in this case but they lie and kill to protect their incomes. They are greedy and this choice and be considered wrong. Morality is low. Now Acshenbach knows and he has the power to alert others of the immediate danger. He contemplates telling Tadzio’s family. He contemplates this for 23 lines with the
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